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The John Dory Oyster Bar
It might not seem wise to order the roasted-pork sandwich ($16) at a seafood joint, but if it's made by chef April Bloomfield, it's a sure thing. From noon to 4pm, thick slices of succulent loin are piled with macerated red onions and tiny mixed greens on a sturdy round roll, each side slathered with "tuna mayo." Like a tartar sauce times ten, the umami-rich smear is laced with anchovies and flaky wedges of tuna. 1196 Broadway at 29th St (212-792-9000, thejohndory.com)
At lunch, chef Laurent Manrique tricks out a classic Maine lobster roll as only an haute French chef could: His open-faced lobster brioche piles warm, butter-bathed chunks of the crustacean atop toasted slabs of soft white bread, requiring the use of knife and fork. It's served with an elegant shaved-fennel--and--butter-lettuce slaw, plus a cone of freshly cut fries dusted with smoked paprika. (Be sure to request a side of saffron mayo.) It might be $25, but it's a worthy midday splurge in a stunning setting. Carlton Hotel, 92 Madison Ave at 29th St (212-889-7100, millesimerestaurant.com)
By night David Chang and Tien Ho's buzzy hotel eatery hosts ravenous gastronomes who tear into large-format beef feasts and foie gras terrines. But by day M Pche is midtown's coolest option for in-the-know execs who broker deals over the city's most pedigreed banh mi. The house-special sandwich boasts three types of house-made terrine on a toasted and spicy-aioli--slathered French roll, crowned with shredded carrot, daikon and a pile of cilantro. It's $10, and if you order it online for pickup as part of the restaurant's "midtown lunch" special, it also comes with a soda. Chambers Hotel, 15 W 56th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-757-5878, momofuku.com/ma-peche)
There are just a handful of rustic tables at Gabriel Stulman's charming corner eatery, and snagging one of them on a weekend or evening requires a long, patient wait. But during lunch the sunlit space becomes a laid-back retreat, where you can devour a $17 lunch-only platter of fried chicken in peace. Two fat wedges of boneless, crispy-skinned breasts are drizzled with an addictive mix of mustard gravy and balsamic glaze and piled atop layers of creamy mashed potatoes and shredded brussels sprouts. It's like mainlining Grandma's Sunday supper between your morning and afternoon meetings. 170 Waverly Pl at Grove St (646-429-8383, josephleonard.com)
Think chef Zak Pelaccio and pit master Robbie Richter can only work their Southeast Asian barbecue magic on meats? The lunch-only grilled cheese ($10 with a side salad) is proof to the contrary. It's a luscious mix of chili-spiked butter, house-smoked Gruyre and mozzarella; the smashing pairing is served on fat slices of white pullman bread, its richness cut by the brine of pickled red chilies. 91 South 6th St between Bedford Ave and Berry St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-3090, fattycue.com)